PANO’s Standards for Excellence Promote Nonprofit Best Practices

pano-logo-as-of-2015For more than two decades, Real Alternatives has assisted women and families by providing pregnancy and parenting support services throughout Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana. A highly regarded nonprofit organization, Real Alternatives maintains accreditation under the Standards for Excellence program of the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO). Real Alternatives, has been accredited with the Seal of Excellence by PANO for the third time since 2002 for successfully meeting the 56 criteria of the Standards for Excellence program.

Based on a national initiative launched by the Standards for Excellence Institute, PANO’s Standar ds for Excellence program is based on the fundamental values such as honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, responsibility, and accountability. Real Alternatives’ programs and services, management, fundraising, and financial practices were examined in depth using 56 criteria before the accreditation was granted.

To become accredited under PANO’s Standard for Excellence program, a nonprofit organization must take part in a Standard for Excellence training program and then create a detailed plan on how it will make adjustments and changes to meet each of the standards outlined in the code. Once the organization has addressed the areas targeted for improvement, a process that can take anywhere from several months to a few years, management can then gather and submit an application and all corollary information and materials needed for an accreditation review.

Although it is not a simple task, becoming accredited strengthens organizations and gives management access to 30 educational resources for continual improvement. Accreditation also promotes trust within the community and can help facilitate fundraising efforts. For more information about PANO’s Standards for Excellence program, visit

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